Subcity interviewed me last week, about my application for a new show. They'd had many, but my impression was that my chances are good. So here's another podcast to keep you warm until December! These are songs that I had left after completing the tracklistings for the first few radio shows (plus some new tracks I've fallen in love with since then), and I thought I might just as well give them to you now. I just came to think of the fact that it makes this show's title even more fitting. This is Throwaway Stars, which is ALMOST a Lucksmiths song-title, and an attempt to tell you something about the nature of POP!. These are songs that will, hopefully, make you dance or cry - for the moment. Let these bands be your stars for tonight, and forget everything else. Because tomorrow you will be on the lookout for the New Thing. "Yesterday's gone and tomorrow might never come." That is not to say you will forget Widdershins or Apple Orchard. You will rediscover them next week, or even next year, and fall in love all over again. Pop music is a commodity, to be consumed and thrown away, like "a bubblegum when the flavour's gone". But it is also art – you can put your life into it and it can change your life. Pop's potential lies in the tension between art and commerce, just as with pop art. Your life is nothing but a collection of memories, of moments. Some of those are without a doubt musical moments. A good pop song will become part of you and who you are. It won't be forgotten. A good pop song is not something you pay £20 for on eBay, just so you can put it on your shelf. A good pop song is an mp3 you play on repeat twenty times and is then lost as your iPod breaks down the day after the warranty ends.
The Ups and Downs – The Living Kind
I discovered this twenty-year-old, jangling, Australian indie gem thanks to the blog Lost and Found. It's the sixteenth song Javier has shared with us and, in my opinion, the best of those still active. Go there now and discover all the other fantastic obscurities from the dusty vaults of aged vinyl!
Mary Queen of Scots – Think of Me
Another discovery made thanks to a blog. This time Andreas' Dance to the Sun. As you can read on this website, Mary Queen of Scots was the early 90's project of another Chris. Overlooked by almost everyone except Kris Waaah, it's time that changed. You can get all his songs on a cd for a symbolic sum, and if you like the guitar sound and poignant lyrics of Sarah Records you needn't think twice.
Johnny Says Yeah! – Everything Is Mine
Continuing in the mellow track. Firestation have released two brilliant retrospectives this year. A compilation of The Nivens' music and the much anticipated Long Ball Into Nowhere with (almost) everything Hey Paulette did. Not more than a year ago they also released Friends Gone By 1986-1989 with Johnny Says Yeah!, who deserve praise if not only for their exclamation mark. They were featured on the fourth Leamington Spa with the brilliant "Waiting Here For Me", but as with many obscure 80's bands, their material were of a shifting quality. They had a piano/horn section thing going on, that sometimes makes a sound I'm not entirely comfortable with. But when the more jangling elements shine through, as in this grandiose ballad, you've got to hand it to them.
Friends – Primrose Hill
Friends start off the second Leamington Spa with the epic "You'll Never See That Summertime Again" from their second album. Frontman William Jones had long been playing classical guitar when the first single "It's Getting Louder" was released in 1986. Since then eight albums have come out and there's more to come, quite soon. However, the early sound of Friends (featuring classical guitar patterns, female backing vocals and trumpets) has undergone substantial changes through the years. The last classic Friends album was Songs Without Tears from 1991 and that's where you can find this song. Thanks to the fine work of their label Summerhouse, all the Friends releases are still available.
Popundret – Behind Her
The Swedish track of the week is from Montemarte 15 40 (released by A Westside Fabrication in 1996), the only album by one of the most classic Swedish indiepop bands to date. By 1996 they were pretty much the only ones left from the original northern indie groups. If you are familiar with the history of Swedish indiepop you've probably heard their hit from this record, "Shiver Gone". I had the pleasure of hearing that and many other classics at their reunion gig at the Mitt Sista Liv festival in 2004. Popundret show that you can get away with imitating Morrissey, as long as you do it better than he does himself.
Horowitz – Sister
Pete from old Subway group The Rosehips is now in a new band, and you knew you were going to like it. The recording technique certainly doesn't show any improvement from two decades ago - more like the other way around. If you want more of this lo-fi c86, buy their first album that came out on Kitchen earlier this year!
Apple Orchard – Summer Memories
You probably know the story about Apple Orchard by now - the Marquez brothers who moved from The Philippines to California and took their name from a Bouquet song. They've done a bunch of cassettes, but their first single "A Hiding Smile" came out early this year and is still the best 45 of the year. This is a cover of an Autumn Almanac song that might never get released. The Apple Orchard release schedule is slow, if not only for all of Ryan's other projects. He also completed the debut (and goodbye) album with The Haircuts this year, which you I thought I'd play for you sometime soon. In addition he has (and has had for quite some time) a new label in the works, called Haymarket, whose first release will be a compilation called From Christmas Steps to Southend-On-Sea, to be released sometime next year.
Annemarie – Strawberry Fields
A band still based in Asia - Indonesia to be precise - but that gained international fame with their Living Model EP. This song will be included on the forthcoming full-length that is to be released by the excellent Swedish label Music Is My Girlfriend.
Mr. Suitcase – After Winter's Rain and Ruin
Billy Rimgard is the most brilliant light on a fading Swedish electro scene. Following his debut EP The Shame of Being Imperfect, a cdr of leftovers appeared. It's called Leftovers and can be downloaded from his website. This is one of two "new" tracks on it.
Ring Snuten! - Mellanstadiediskot
Ring Snuten is Patrik of Hormones In Abundance fame. His new name means "call the cops" and goes with a more electronic sound that is simultaneously slower, grander and influenced by old Swedish pop singers. He sings some songs in Swedish, but I've chosen one of those in English for you. Only Ring Snuten could write a convincing song about this subject. The title can be translated as "middle-school disco" and it's about when were around "eleven and a half" - too old for birthday parties with parents and too young for throwing your own parties (and getting drunk). The middle-school disco is an institution in Sweden, or at least it was when I grew up. The teachers would arrange a party each year, that would usually take place in the classroom, under their supervision. This song reminds one of how strong one's feelings could be despite young age.
Harper Lee – William Blake
This almost makes you want to start a band called William Blake and write a song about Harper Lee! Or at least start a new band called Harper Lee, because Keris says this is the end for his project. This is a song from their, hopefully not, last EP called He Holds a Flame, released by Matinée when the sun was still shining.
Another Sunny Day – I Want You
Harvey called the demos posted on indie-mp3 uninspired, but this 1986 demo might be one of his most inspired songs. The sound isn't the best, but I think you can live with that because this song is so direct, so true and so... good!
Mighty Mighty – Throwaway
Here's where the bubblegum quote comes from. This is a perfect pop song, from the first decisive drumbeat, through the classic four-chord sequence, down to the very POP! line "am I really so disposable?". Mighty Mighty were on the C86 tape and this song is from one of their early singles, and can also be found on their Vinyl Japan single collection. They had a clear Orange Juice (not only vocally) and 60's influence on their sound, so here's an appropriate song to follow it:
The Urges – It Ain’t Right
One of the most authentic 60's revival bands today, Dublin's The Urges do a convincing take on The Seeds here. The singer even goes some way in imitating the inimitable Sky Saxon! If there's ever a Children of Nuggets II box - they will be on it.
The Artistics – This Heart of Mine
Now for some real 60's sounds. Our northern track of the week is one of the most majestic I know of. The Artistics were on the Okeh label, the closest you get to a "northern soul label". The single was released in 1965 when the label was still Chicago-centred and it was the group's only hit before they moved on to Brunswick.
Widdershins – A Place In Time
"A Place In Time" makes for a suitable ending this time around, with its tale of ageing and lost love. It's from the download single "Now You Know", released by Egg Records in anticipation of their recent Widdershins retrospective Good Songs 1987-1989. It was originally intended for a scrapped 1990 single. You can hear how Juilet Ward's amazing voice sounds slightly more mature than in the good old Lighthouse Keepers days, but that only serves to lend an added depth to lines such as "nothing feels like anything anymore".
(SPLASH 2 should be up and working again now. As before, let me know if this or earlier podcasts stop functioning.)